5 Things That Can Make Just About Any Game Better
by Daniel Hill
Games, at their very heart, are all about their mechanics — how well they play. Things such as good A.I., a good control set and pretty graphics are some of the biggest categories that video games are scrutinized under. However, in the event that the first three tangibles don’t pan out so well, what is there left to fall back on? Can a game with ugly graphics and controls that aren’t exactly top notch still be worth playing? If it has any of the five things listed below, it just might be.
An Attractive Art Style
Don’t mistaken this for graphics, because that’s not what I’m talking about here. What I am talking about is a level of artistry that goes into the design of the gaming world that surrounds you. A game with a well-put-together artistic direction can be leagues better simply because the world can almost seem either alive, simply one that you would want to jump into and live in yourself just because of it’s pure beauty. If you remember the game for nothing else, you may be able to pick even the most inscrutable screenshot out and know immediately that it is from that game. Even if the graphics aren’t up to par, a good art style can still make the game pretty to look at.
Games made better by this: El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron, killer7, Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom, Enslaved, Asura’s Wrath
When done correctly, a game can not only make it look like you are inside of the world, it can make you feel like you’re in the world as well. Atmosphere can range from giving you the shakes to giving you a sense of childlike wonder. Even if the enemy A.I. is imbecilic or the game doesn’t come off as all that original, these things will hardly be as noticeable when the game is dense with atmosphere. Setting the mood for what is about to happen or giving the game a consistent feel throughout can make a huge difference. Even the most realistic graphics or the largest amount of imaginable gore can’t replace a good atmosphere.
Games made better by this: Metro: 2033, Singularity, Goldeneye (Wii version), Galleon, Alan Wake
With the exception of taking a dump, I really can’t think of a lot of things that aren’t made better by doing it with a group of friends — or even one friend. You can work together to take out baddies in ways an A.I. partner would never do, you can poke fun at a game’s poor A.I., or you can just shoot each other for the fun of it. Giving players the option to play a game with a friend sitting right next to you, like atmosphere, makes a game feel better to play. It can make a romp through the most mundane of games feel like so much more simply because you’re doing it with a friend.
Games made better by this: Both Kane and Lynch titles, Dungeon Siege 3, Perfect Dark 0
A True Sense of Purpose
Do you ever feel insulted when you’re asked to go find a key in a game? Do you ever want to strangle that prick in that RPG for sending you on the 1,000th mundane task in under an hour? Playing video games is considered by many people to be a waste of time, but when you feel like you’re truly accomplishing something in a game and you’re not just going through the motions, those detractors couldn’t seem more wrong.
Games made better by this: The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings, Deus Ex: Human Revolution
A Good Story
You might look at this one and just ask, “well why don’t you just go read a damn book, then?” Well, don’t ask me that, that’s not the point here. Anyways, when a game has us not only guessing at what is going to happen next in the narrative, but eagerly anticipating it, there is something there that even the most functional game play gimmick or shiniest graphics just can’t replace. Good writing can capture just about anyone’s attention.
Games made better by this: Asura’s Wrath, Singularity
What do you think? Are there any things about video games unrelated to game play that can make just about any game great in your eyes? Let us know in the comments below!